Top Five Tuesday – Five Tropes I Can’t Get Enough Of

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah @Bionic Book Worm, and is now being hosted by Meeghan of Meeghan Reads, and this week it’s all about the top five tropes you can’t get enough of. I’m not someone who particularly thinks in tropes but can I think of a few things that come up again and again in my favourite reads? Why yes, yes I can. Five things. Starting right now.

Grizzled Veteran

Now I like a good coming of age as much as the next Wheel of Time re-reader but there’s something about characters that have already been through the mill really gets me. Maybe it’s the sardonic cynicism that oozes out of their pores, or the potential that comes with all that backstory, or the fact they get to do awesome things. Maybe it’s that I’ve always been old and grumpy at heart. In any case, Robert and Nedd were the best thing about SoIaF (replaced by Jaime and Davos), Sam Vimes and Granny Weatherwax are my favourite Discworld protagonists, and so on. Some other good books to find this trope include Li Kao in Hughart’s Bridge of Birds, Cazaril in Bujold’s Cuse of Chalion, and Tomas Piety in McLean’s Priest of Bones.

Beau Ideal

Well I wouldn’t have even thought of this as a trope until I read Sherwood Smith’s review of The Dragon Waiting on Goodreads today. The Beau Ideal is an idealised protagonist “recognizable through his descendants—witty, well-read, courageous, seemingly immoral or amoral, but actually true to his beliefs. And he has beliefs, even if it is only in his fellow-man”, a “character [who] serves to show what humans could be… with a little imagination and grace.” And since she’s said it, I recognise it as a favourite of mine. Smith lists the heroes of the romantic chansons, the Scarlet Pimpernel, and Dimitrios in The Dragon Waiting. Me, I would point to Lindsey Davis’ Falco, or Guy Gavriel Kay’s Diarmuid in The Fionavar Tapestry, or Bardugo’s Nikolai in the Grishaverse.

Chosen One

I think I’m fairly safe in assuming I don’t have to explain what one of these is.

And yes, if I had a quid for each one I’ve read I’d have a fantastic night out including a Michelin three star restaurant, but I’m still up for another. They are just the fantastical made flesh. Be it the ordained by fate like Rand al’Thor in The Wheel of Time, to the somewhat self-selecting like Zhu in Parker-Chan’s She Who Became The Sun, I’m interested in them all.

Sarcastic Sidekick

All good characters need someone to bounce off, and who better than a sarcastic sidekick? After all, every hero needs someone to let them know when they’re off the straight and the narrow. It’s why ancient Celtic charioteers would harangue their warrior from the sideline. Happily, there’s no end of these in fantasy, from Jean Tannen in Lies of Locke Lamora to Nanny Ogg in Discworld, from Sorasa in Aveyard’s Realm Breaker to Narcoya in Feist’s and Wurts’ Empire Trilogy.

The Order

Knightly orders. Secret bands of spies. Noble houses. Thieves guilds. Heroes. Despised wardens against forgotten evils. Mystic brotherhoods. Mystic sisterhoods. Mystic people in hoods. I’ve always believed in being part of something bigger than yourself, and I love books that feature that. The camaraderie, the traditions, the everything. For me a few great ones include the Heralds in Lackey’s Valdemar, the Houses in De Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen, The Invisibles in Morrison’s The Invisibles, The Thirty in Gemmell’s Drenai Saga, the Aes Sedai, the City Watch, the Night Watch, the… if there’s one trope me and fantasy agree should be everywhere, it really is this one!

Let me know of any great examples of the above, or favourite tropes of your own, in the comments.


8 thoughts on “Top Five Tuesday – Five Tropes I Can’t Get Enough Of

    1. Honestly, I think Found Families might be sliding towards the bottom of my preferred group lists. They’re happy and heartwarming, but sometimes I need a few more jagged edges to go with it – plus they tend to have less backstory too. I do like my backstory…


  1. The grizzled narrator is a very interesting trope. Come to think of it, I like it a lot too. Let me think… The narrator in A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland is a perfect example of grizzled veteran. Also, Laura Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow. I’ve never thought of Granny as a Grizzled Veteran before but she totally is. And Nanny is the perfect Sarcastic Sidekick. I love this list!! (Does that make Tiffany the Chosen One?!) I hope you had fun this week 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now you mention it, I think Tiffany is the Chosen One at points and I’d never noticed it because I think of her as a Chose To Be The One if that makes sense.

      Now Esk, Esk is a Chosen One.

      And I did! Thank you for your hard work on these.

      Liked by 1 person

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